Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

Vocabuteria: gormless

I’m launching a new initiative inside this blog. It’s for you. To help you improve yourself. I’m calling it Vocabuteria. With some regularity and plenty of warmth, I’ll serve an interesting, evocative word and talk a little about its meaning. Learning new words is a way to grow. (A small way, sure, but a fun way.) I’m learning too. And having stashed 1,249 really cool words in my file over the past few years, if I send one a week, I’ll be 88 years old when my supply runs out. Hang in there.


If you are lacking intelligence, someone might call you “gormless” and before now you wouldn’t have known what they were talking about. (Merriam-Webster claims it means unintelligent, even stupid. Oxford leans toward foolish.) “Gormless” is a soft word with a sharp edge. If it’s lobbed at you and you show indignation, it won’t stick because anyone who knows what it means doesn’t likely fit what it means. To further show your stuff, call your accuser banemalenteous. It means mean.



Cheerful Despair